Alec Guinness, Petula Clark and Veronica Turleigh filming at Hillingdon in 1951. Image courtesy of Reading Museum, Reading Chronicle Collection

Alec Guinness, Petula Clark and Veronica Turleigh filming at Hillingdon in 1951. Image courtesy of Reading Museum, Reading Chronicle Collection

The Hillingdon Prince Hotel is a brick manufacturer’s showreel; a magnificent display of grey, red and moulded brickwork with winged dragons and other finials on the roof.

Last week we explored Christ Church and the top of Kendrick Road.

The numbers on the route map are referred to in the text below in bold italics.

One of the former occupiers of the building now used by the hotel (no 7) was the Milk Marketing Board. It was during this time that some of the filming of The Card, based on Arnold Bennett’s novel, took place.


From around the turn of the twentieth century, Hillingdon was the home of William Poulton the local brick manufacturer. He moved from Milman Road and was living here when he served as Mayor of Reading from 1899-1900. William Poulton had been a councillor since 1887 when he was elected for Katesgrove ward following the extension of the boundaries of Reading and increase in the number of members of the council.

William Poulton’s election as Mayor in 1899 was proposed by Alderman Blandy and seconded by Councillor Owen Ridley, who described the mayor elect:

Mr Poulton had not been a great speaker at their Council meetings, but it was well occasionally to inform the public that the very best work in connection with their town was not always done in public, but mostly in the privacy of the committees of the Council (hear, hear).

He went on to remind the audience that Mr Poulton had been elected four times to serve his ward and that he also held office in Trinity Congregational Church [ref 1]. The church, which has since been demolished, used to be at the corner of Sidmouth Street and Queens Road.

Roofline of the Hillingdon Prince Hotel

In 1905, Poulton and Sons’ Adamantine Brick and Terra Cotta Tile Works at Waterloo and Katesgrove Kilns, was bought by S & E Collier Ltd of Tilehurst for £22,000 [ref 2].

To the west of Hillingdon are two very large semi-detached properties, 35-37 Christchurch Road, which were also built for William Poulton. Both these houses are now occupied but at the time the conservation area appraisal was written they were boarded up:

Not listed, but an important semi-detached pair of late Victorian Houses in grey and red brick, with steep tiled roofs. Number 35 has a prominent corner turret feature with a pointed hexagonal roof. The other main features are three large gables, projecting bays and a massive decorated chimney stack facing Christchurch Road. All windows and doors are picked out in contrasting brickwork with terracotta panels at high level on the turret and above second floor windows. Currently boarded up and something of an eyesore. No front wall. Hedge in part hides railings. Important tree cover. A site in need of attention [ref 3].

William Poulton’s son Francis married Edith Collis at St Giles’s church on 25 April 1905. He lived at 41 Christchurch Road which, for a while, was called Mullingar. This picturesque house was built in an entirely different style from 35-39 Christchurch Road. It receives a positive review from the conservation area appraisal.

This is a large, attractive two storey early 20th century detached house in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ style. It has a circular turret on its southeast corner and two paneled gables fronting Christchurch Road. The main decorative features are timber framing with brick infill panels, and twisted ‘Tudor-inspired’ chimney stacks. The house was built for William Poulton, a major Reading brick maker, who also made the chimneys [ref 3].

By the mid 1910s, both Francis Poulton and his father William lived at 41 Christchurch Road and the Misses Eleanor and Florence Sutton lived at Hillingdon.

The group of Edwardian properties at 43 – 49 Christchurch Road, east of Sutherlands Avenue (no 8), were added as a result of public consultation on the conservation area.

Unfortunately, the facilities of the hotel are only open to residents and so we must move on. Use the crossing (no 9) to cross to the south side of Christchurch Road and walk to the corner of Christchurch Road and Vicarage Road (no 10).

We will continue the walk next Thursday.


  1. Berkshire Chronicle 11 November 1899, p5. There is a photograph of the church in the 1970s in Reading Library’s image collection.
  2. Prospectus for issuing preference shares and debenture stock by S & E Collier Ltd. Berkshire Chronicle 30 September 1905, p4. In today’s money this would be worth around £2.4 million (Bank of England inflation calculator)
  3. Conservation Area Appraisals. Christchurch starts on page 16 (of 371) and there is a map on page 39.

Newspaper references from British Newspaper Archive, courtesy of British Library, online at find my past (subscription required), unless stated otherwise. Reading Central Library also has a full set of copies on the Berkshire Chronicle and Reading Mercury.

Census records are online at find my past (subscription required), and can be accessed at Berkshire Record Office. Death records, unless from newspaper reports or reference works, were obtained online at find my past (subscription required), but can be accessed at Berkshire Record Office.

  1. Conserving Katesgrove – An introduction to Christchurch Conservation Area
  2. Reading Borough Council Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings
  3. Reading Museum online collection
  4. The first local elections in Katesgrove Ward in 1887
  5. Hillingdon Prince Hotel